In addition to the conference sessions listed below, there are other features as well:
To see a block schedule with rooms and times, click here:
2016 Annual Conference Schedule
(Return to the Annual Conference homepage.)
Friday Night Social
An informal gathering on 2/12/16 at the Minnesota Street Market food co-op, just across the street from the St. Ben’s campus. Bring a musical instrument if you play, and come enjoy the gathering of the sustainable farming community.
For more information, contact Lisa Baker 320-309-0746 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Seed Swap returns, this year under the direction of Winston Pennington-Flax and Elizabeth Makarewicz.
The swap will be from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the lobby at the Gorecki Center – bring your seeds to trade and share your techniques with other growers from around the region.
Winston and Elizabeth are up-and-coming farmers that have called Minnesota home for just under three years and have been involved with the SFA for almost as long. This past season, Winston learned seed saving techniques from Greg Reynolds at Riverbend Farm while Elizabeth stewarded city lots with Stone’s Throw Urban Farm. Both are passionate about the ecological and culinary outcomes of saving, and are excited to share tips, techniques, and, of course, seeds.
For information, contact: w.penningtonflax
On Saturday morning will be our yearly Leaders Breakfast and Director’s Awards at 7:30 a.m. – it’s just $15 and includes breakfast and a special “State of SFA” address. You must purchase the ticket to attend the breakfast, see the registration section on the conference homepage.
Budding Farmers Kids Program
9:30 a.m. – 4:20 p.m. on Conference Day.
Admission for children ages 3-12 is just $10 and includes fun and educational programming from Budding Farmers; Children will rejoin their parents for lunch. NOTE: Children’s programming attendants must be potty-trained. (Children 2 and under get in to the conference for free, but will be the responsibility of their parents.)
Sign up your kids in advance with your registration, see the registration section on the conference homepage.
Everyone knows the best part of the Annual Conference is the Social Hour following the last sessions. Share in good conversations with fellow conference attendees and enjoy complimentary samples of Central Minnesota’s finest brews, wines, and Lakewinds Co-op’s cheeses.
Opening Plenary Session 8:30 a.m.
Chapter & Networking Groups Presentations: Each Chapter and Networking Group will do a 1-minute presentation about their work and plans, and they will have displays in the main conference room. (Contact Sarah Lindblom, Event Coordination Intern, for details, sarah.a.lindblom
Director’s Address: SFA’s Executive Director, John Mesko, will give his “State of Sustainable Agriculture Address”.
Awards: The winners of the SFA awards will be recognized.
—————- 9:30 a.m. —————-
Restoration Agriculture and Keyline Design for Improving Hydrology
A discussion on the basic concepts of farm scale permaculture and keyline design. Presenters will walk through the steps used in designing these systems on their farms. Jim Chamberlin and his wife Audra operate Island Lake Farm, a 107 acre diversified farm east of Brainerd, MN, where they integrate livestock, vegetables, and agroforestry practices using the principals of permaculture design.
Lisa Baker farms 3 acres of certified organic produce at her 15-acre family farm in Avon, MN. Using keyline design principles, the farm is experimenting with diverting and capturing rain water with 900′ of berms, swales and ponds, diverting it to where it is best utilized on-farm, as well as defining the natural places for perennials and improving production in the cultivated fields.
Greg Schweser, U of MN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnership associate program director of sustainable agriculture and food systems, will be talking about berm and swale design. In addition to his work with restoration agriculture, Greg’s recent project topic areas include passive solar greenhouses, rural grocery stores, integrated poultry and perennial cropping systems, and hazelnut production.
“The Butterfly Effect” Film Screening
A new documentary from Deb Wallwork, the maker of “Dirty Work: The Story of Elsie’s Farm”, this film is a meditative essay on beauty, science and art, and is about ordinary people: farmers, teachers, and scientists who are concerned about the dwindling population of monarch butterflies.
Developing a Forage Chain
Join SFA Livestock and Grazing Specialist and long-time grazier Kent Solberg to explore creative
ways to meet the forage needs for your ruminant livestock throughout the growing season and beyond.
Homemade with Honey
With insights and information from author, chef and TV personality, Sue Doeden, who is also and accomplished beekeeper, this session will focus on Sue’s work creating the book, “Homemade with Honey“, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. Across the country, communities are looking for ways to help increase and support local bee populations. Honey is sustainable, natural, and wholesome, and local varieties are abundantly available. Buzzing with endless possibilities for your kitchen, Homemade with Honey helps you make the tastiest use of this precious ingredient. Sue will be demonstrating preparation of the Hearty Wild Rice Salad that is in the cookbook as well.
Selling Farm Products: Legal Best Practices and Models for Strong Relationships
Growing or raising a fine farm product is the fun part, right? Yet without sales, the farm can’t keep producing for long. This workshop will show how to build a strong sales relationship that protects you, including legal best practices for formal contracts and informal sales paperwork like invoices, plus legal particulars for diversification such as selling growing services in addition to product. With a passion for farming, attorney Rachel Armstrong with Farm Commons helps the sustainable ag community with quality legal information, and resolutions to the business legal issues that hinder farmers from achieving their goals.
—————- 11:05 a.m. —————-
Beyond the Farmers Market
Alternative Sales Opportunities for Small Farmers.
Moderated by Dale Woodbeck, General Manager, Lakewinds Food Co-op.
Natalie and Josh Kelly own Twin Cities Local Food (https://www.localfoodmarketplace.com/twincities), Natalie and Josh Kelly own Twin Cities Local Food (https://www.localfoodmarketplace.com/twincities), a food hub operating as an online farmers market connecting retail, wholesale and Farm-to-School customers to local food, year round. Twin Cities Local Food assembles a variety of locally grown and produced foods on one web site, so customers can make one purchase from multiple farms, including seasonal produce, grass fed meats, cheeses, grains, oils, honey, artisan goods and more.
Local Roots Food Co-op in Buffalo (localrootsfood.coop) also runs an online market, and market manager, Connie Carlson, will discuss their operation.
Lakewinds Co-op (http://www.lakewinds.com), which has three stores on the west side of the Twin Cities, is sending David Giedd, Produce Buyer, and Tyler Cook, Produce Department Manager at the Chanhassen store, to discuss what it takes to sell to a large co-op.
Minnesota Grown’s Wholesale Directory (http://minnesotagrown.com/wholesale-directory-search/) is an online resource that connects farmers to potential wholesale markets like restaurants, schools and grocers, and will be represented by Paul Hugunin.
MN Cottage Food Law
Led by Kathy Zeman, Operations Manager for the Minnesota Farmers Market Association, and Valerie Gamble, Outreach and Delegation Coordinator for the Food and Feed Safety Division at MDA.
Sponsored by Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.
Ivan and Dayle Reinke of Cloverleaf Grass Farm, and SFA Livestock and Grazing Specialist Kent Solberg will host a discussion on wintering livestock. We will cover outwintering, bale grazing, hoop structures, deep straw systems, windbreaks, bedding, watering systems, and more. Bring your pictures and ideas to the discussion. This session is designed to complement an upcoming winter field day.
Deep Winter Vegetable Production
Hosted by SFA staffers Sue Wika and Tom Prieve, who also operate Paradox Farm. Deep winter vegetable production is thriving in Minnesota, and some of the most innovate developments are happening right here. This session is the culmination of a workshop at the MN Organic Conference, followed by a series of Deep Winter Farm Tours across the region, in collaboration with U of M Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. Join some of the leading producers for this discussion-based session.
Avoiding Potholes on the Road to Farming Success
Come learn the 10 biggest barriers to farming success and how to avoid them. This workshop is designed for those who are thinking of farming, or have recently started farming. We will learn from over 200 farms who were surveyed and shared with us the most difficult issues they faced in starting and growing their businesses. Presented by SFA Executive Director and owner of Lighthouse Farm, John Mesko.
—————- 12:15 Lunch Hour Sessions —————-
(Lunch is on-your-own in the cafeteria or nearby restaurants)
Post Harvest Handling for Vegetable Operations with Employees
This session, hosted by Lisa Baker, will cover a training checklist that farm managers can use throughout the season, a harvest crew handbook covering concepts employees need to know to prepare produce for the longest shelf life and reduce food safety risks, and materials farms can use in their pack shed to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
This session requires reservations; email email@example.com to register. Lunch will be provided for the first 15 registrants.
Developing a Farm Incubation Model for Minnesota
There are lots of people who want to get started in farming. Many try, but long-term success is difficult to achieve. Come to this session, learn what is going on in farm incubation in MN, and offer your input and ideas into what would make a good farm incubation model.
Hosted by John Mesko and Eric Sannerud, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnership, Renewing the Countryside, PartnerSHIP 4 Health, Sandbox
LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED to the 1st 10 conference attendees that reserve with Jerry Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1.844.922.5573 Ext. 700
Resources for Chapters and Networking Groups
Network Coordinator, Jerry Ford, will lead this lunchtime session for leaders and members of SFA Chapters and Networking Groups. Bring your questions about chapter/group finances, structure, events and more.
LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED to the 1st 10 chapter/network group leaders that reserve with Jerry Ford at email@example.com, or call 1.844.922.5573 Ext. 700
East Central Chapter Organizational Meeting
A new SFA chapter is forming in the region just north and east of the Twin Cities, centering around Princeton, Cambridge and North Branch. Here’s your opportunity to join up and be a part.
—————- 1:30 p.m. —————-
New and Unusual Perennial Fruit Crops for Northern Climates
A surprising number of fruit crops can be grown in the upper midwest. In this session, Dr. Thaddeus McCamant will cover the commercial potential for growing crops such as currants, gooseberries, saskatoons, honeyberries, aronia and different types of cherries, while discussing market potential and production problems for each crop. For over 16 years Dr. McCamant has taught fruit and vegetable production at Central Lakes College in Staples, primarily through on-farm education.
WOC Talks: Wisdom of the Community
Similar to the popular TED Talks, SFA members and supporters will submit talks on subjects relating to sustainable farming and food systems, and the organization will select some for presentation during this session. The selected WOC Talks will be filmed and then placed on SFA’s website and YouTube channel.
The presenters selected for this conference are:
Scott Haase, “Maximizing Our Impact on the Landscape”
Joe Borgerding, “Full Circle Farming in Just Forty Years”
Eric Deblieck, “Successful Oat Production in the Upper Midwest”
Read more about it here: http://www.sfa-mn.org/woc-talks/
Animal Handling Systems
Safety and efficiency has driven the redesign of the cattle handling systems over the years. This session features a panel of livestock professionals who will offer ideas on animal handling systems and techniques. Tom Prieve of Paradox Farm, and Kent Solberg, SFA Livestock and Grazing Specialist, will be joined by Steve Misegades, who owns Back 9 Ranch near Henning, Minnesota, which handles approximately 900 cow-calf pairs per year. Steve operates Back 9 Ranch with his wife Jodi, three children, and the assistance of several employees.
Birds & Bees: Building Biodiversity on Your Land
We hear a lot about how important pollinators are to food production. But, how does a farmer or landowner build biodiversity without affecting profitability? Can we afford to set aside land just for the birds and the bees? The presenters in this session think we can’t afford NOT to. Including a short intro into beneficial insect identification, the benefits of supporting their life cycle on your land, programming available to assist your efforts, with input from a farmer who is using pollinator strips now, Carmen Fernholz, the session with conclude with Q&A and your insights. Carmen and his wife Sally farm near Madison, Minnesota, operating over 300 acres of diversified field crops including corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and oats. They have been certified organic since 1975 and Carmen collaborates extensively with the University of Minnesota on developing the organic research agenda for organic cropping systems.
An expert on the responsible management of forests and farms, Kathryn Fernholz is the Executive Director of Dovetail Partners, Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy altenatives.
Constance Fernholz Carlson graduated from the College of St. Benedict, and though much of her career has been focused in book publishing, her heart has never been far from farming, land stewardship, community development and service work: she currently volunteers a considerable amount of time in the Crow River region working on various initiatives, including a new co-op and a new food council.
Slow Money Efforts in Minnesota and How It Can Help Farmers
In 2011, Slow Money founder Woody Tasch was the keynote speaker at SFA’s Annual Conference. Since then, interest has grown in Slow Money-style concepts as farm and food entrepreneurs seek alternative sources of financing and more and more investors look to align their investments with their values. Presented by Renewing the Countryside, this session will provide a brief history of Slow Money efforts in Minnesota, including the launch of a Minnesota Slow Money Network and an update of the MNVest investment crowdsourcing legislation. This overview will be followed by a dialogue with two entrepreneurs who have navigated the alternative financing waters. Ryan Pesch of Lida Farm will share his experience in running a kickstarter campaign to finance a deep winter greenhouse. Eric Sannerud of Mighy Axe Hops will share his journey in finding private investors to expand his business.
—————- 3:10 p.m. —————-
How To Have Fruit in our Northern Climate – a Group Session
Each farm family has its favorite fruits and every farm builds a valuable mental file of dos and don’ts for tending their fruit trees and shrubs. In this session we sit together to combine these individual experiences into a shared trove of practical tips and techniques on growing fruit in Minnesota. This will include such questions as cultivar preferences, winterizing techniques, harvesting tips and more. Participants are encouraged to bring relevant swaps and samples like scion wood (contact Kent for further information: firstname.lastname@example.org). About half the session will focus on apples and then we will run efficiently down a list of other tree and shrub fruit. Session leader, Kent Scheer, who facilitated a 3-year orcharding series in central Minnesota, has a fascination with growing tree and shrub fruits in those northern climes.
How Do We Grow Garlic in the Upper Midwest?
Presented by the Upper Midwest Garlic Growers networking group, this session will be an open discussion of techniques and practices used by garlic operations of different sizes across the region. Facilitated by Chris Kudrna of Plum Creek Garlic, this session will be recorded and the results will be posted on the group’s webpage.
Co-presenting with Chris is Paul Schmidt of Sunfresh Foods in Preston, MN, who won a 1st prize at MN Garlic Festival for his Krasnodar Marbled Purple Stripe garlic; and Sunny Ruthchild of Merry Weather Gardens near Walnut Grove, MN.
Sustainable Sheep Community
Alethea Kenney will be giving an introduction to the Sustainable Sheep Community Networking Group and related projects. Alethea lives with her husband on a farm in northern MN where she spends her days outwitting her flock of Icelandic, Black Welsh Mountain and crossbred sheep, goats and llamas. She is a traditional naturopath, herbalist and homeopath specializing in maintaining healthy animals, and is the small ruminant consultant for North Central Feed Products, LLC in Gonvick, MN.
Wayne Martin grew up in SE Iowa on a diversified family farm, raising crops and livestock. Having done presentations on alternative livestock across the globe, since 1999 Wayne has been at the University of Minnesota, first with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, and currently with the Minnesota Extension Service. He is an Extension Educator with a focus on alternative livestock systems, and works with farmers and others interested in pasture and/or deep-bedded production systems. He provides outreach/educational programming for all species of livestock production and marketing in diversified, alternative agricultural systems.
Deep Roots Beginning Farmer Gathering
Come, enjoy the company of fellow farm enthusiasts who know that farming is as much about constantly learning as it is constantly doing. This session is designed for those who’ve taken any Deep Roots course (Farm Skills 101 or short courses) and those curious to see if Deep Roots courses would be a good fit. Whether you are starting to see your farming ambitions realized, or you are just beginning your farming journey, you will find validating and engaging conversation, and the opportunity to be a part of a growing beginning farmer support network. Bring a farming book or magazine to trade and an inquisitive spirit. Go here to learn more about the Deep Roots Farmer Development Program
—————- 4:20 p.m. —————-
End of the Conference Day Social
Return to the SFA Annual Conference Homepage: click here.